May 22, 2018

Summary of R. v. Paterson

R. v. Paterson, 2017 SCC 15 (CanLII)
Heard: November 2nd, 2016
Judgment: March 17th, 2017
Criminal law --- Charter of Rights and Freedoms — Unreasonable search and seizure [s. 8] — Authorized by law— Reasonable expectation of privacy— Charter remedies [s. 24] — Exclusion of evidence
Officers responding to 911 call made by Paterson’s girlfriend, were directed to Paterson’s apartment. Paterson opened the door to his apartment and they smelt marijuana. Paterson admitted to having marijuana roaches and agreed to hand it over to police on a “no case” basis. The officers followed Paterson into his apartment for fear of him destroying the roaches, where they saw handguns and drugs in plain view. Paterson was arrested and convicted of four counts possession of a prohibited restricted firearm, three counts possession of a controlled substance for the purpose of trafficking and two counts possession of a controlled substance. When the warrant was executed, the required report was not filed within the required time period and was incomplete.
BCSC: Accused convicted.
Voir dire to determine admissibility of evidence obtained by the police as a result of their search. TJ concluded that the CL duty on police to protect life and public safety and the exigent circumstances within s.11(7) CDSA justified entry and search. Late and incomplete filing of the report was a breach of Paterson’s s.8 Charter right against unreasonable search and seizure, but TJ refused to exclude the evidence under s.24(2) since the breach was inadvertent, not serious, impact on Paterson’s rights was limited and evidence was highly reliable and crucial to Crown’s case.
BCCA: Accused appealed. Appeal dismissed.
SCC: Accused appealed.
Confessions rule should not apply to statements tendered in the context of a voir dire under the Charter. Crown not required to prove the voluntariness of Paterson’s statement regarding the marijuana in his residence prior to its admission at a Charter voir dire. Exigent circumstances in s.11(7) denotes urgency arising from circumstances calling for immediate police action to preserve evidence, officer or public safety. Those circumstances must render it impracticable to obtain a warrant. s.24(2) analysis: The nature of the Charter infringing state conduct was sufficiently serious to favour exclusion of the evidence. The impact of the warrantless entry on Paterson’s s.8 Charter rights was significant and favours exclusion. The evidence is highly reliable and essential to the Crown’s case so society’s interest in adjudication of the case on its merits favours admitting the evidence.
Held (Majority – 5 Minority -2): Appeal allowed. Set aside the convictions and enter acquittals.
The prospect of Paterson destroying the roaches, which police hoped to seize on a no case basis with no legal consequence to Paterson, did not remotely approach s.11(7)’s threshold of exigency. Under a s.24(2) analysis, the evidence should be excluded as its admission would bring the administration of justice into disrepute.